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Friday, January 31, 2020

Truckee Area...Winter Bugs

Personally I like to fish dry flies in winter...if conditions and access permit. Locally, in the Truckee area, currently there three aquatic bugs to consider if you're looking for surface feeders. I'm intentionally not mentioning midges because they are ALWAYS present, 365 days per year. I haven't observed intense bug hatches, but the below bugs are emerging...and trout are selectively eating them at the surface or in the surface-film.

Best time-frame to be at the stream has been noon to 3PM. I prefer a bit of cloud cover because there is less solar-heating to dry the adults' wings;  their wings have to be structurally sound before they  alight off the water. The longer they drift, the more susceptible they are to be eaten.

NOTE: Unless specified the images are mine taken in Truckee area

Little Black Winter Stoneflies:

When they are about, you'll see them "peppering" the snow-banks; either crawling about as winged adults or as nymphs preparing to split their thoracic wing-case to emerge.  Today they were fluttering at the water's surface in slow-running runs; otherwise they are very difficult to observe in the drift. Trout, generally, ingest these diminutive insects with gentle "slurps". Thin, 6X tippets are suggested for these size 16-18 aquatics. Consider two patterns; one that sits flush on the water's surface or a high-profile pattern with splayed wings, mimicking the top-water, fluttering adult (egg-layer?)

Blue-Winged Olives:

The existing BWO hatch is this year's "first-brood" emergence. I believe there may be three broods; winter, spring and fall...heresy? These small bugs are more visible while floating because they are "up-wings" as opposed to being a "down-wing"  relative to the two  stoneflies mentioned in this post. I prefer "old-school" Quigley Cripples, sparsely-tied ParaDun or CDC ComParaDun patterns; attached to minimum 10'-12' leader and a wispy 6X tippet. My first 20" RainBow of the 2020 season was fooled by the latter-mentioned pattern; size 18. Using the thin tippet, the hope is there are no obstructions while playing the trout.

Skwala Stonefly:

A bit early, but we brought one to hand today. We anticipate a more robust emergence starting about the 3rd week of February. While at rest on the water they can be difficult to see being a "down-wing". The telltale of their presence is an aggressive swirl or bulge at the surface; unlike the gentle slurp for the Little Black Winter Stones. When the trout become aware of this stonefly adult, I like doubling my chances of a hook-up by trailing off the bend of the #8-10 Skwala dry a pattern such as a  #18 JuJu Baetis or Flash-Back WD-40.  A 5X tippet will suffice; being sturdy enough to "turn-over" the big fly fraud.
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